As part of the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour 2024, last week the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) partnered with Inspire Today to support about 1,000 female students in cocoa-growing communities in the Ayensuano district of Ghana's Eastern region. The initiative aimed to promote menstrual hygiene and empower girls to stay in school. 

Inspire Today is an NGO that focuses on supporting young girls in public schools, especially in deprived communities. The items distributed included sanitary towels, washing detergents, soap, razors, deodorants, and reading materials.  

Mike Arthur, ICI Country Director for Ghana, highlighted that the collaboration aligns with ICI's commitment to addressing the challenges faced by children in cocoa-growing communities and emphasised the importance of helping girls stay in school. 

“Child labour and forced labour are complex problems that can only be tackled effectively through the collective, coordinated, and consistent efforts of all stakeholders involved. On an occasion such as this, we collaborate with partners to resolve the many challenges faced by children in cocoa-growing communities. We find this partnership with Inspire Today important because we are determined to bridge the gap between male and female enrolment in schools and giving girls these items will go a long way to help,” he explained. 

Madam Rosemary Boateng, District Girl Child Coordinator for the Ghana Education Service in Ayensuano expressed gratitude to ICI and Inspire Today, noting that this gesture will boost the girls' confidence, helping to encourage regular school attendance.  

Etornam Sey, Executive Director and founder of Inspire Today, emphasised the organisation's mission to ensure dignified menstruation for all girls. She highlighted the challenge of accessing clean and hygienic menstrual towels, which this initiative aims to address, adding that: “For us, our focus is the girls. We want to ensure that nothing keeps them away from the classroom.” 

This initiative demonstrates ICI's commitment to empowering girls in cocoa-growing communities, promoting education, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This also contributes to achieving SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and SDG 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls).